My Freshers’ Week as a postgraduate

Written by MA Translation student Daina 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I progressed to my MA straight from my undergraduate degree, I took to the opportunity to be a Welcome Team volunteer during Freshers’ Week. I hadn’t done this during my undergraduate degree so I thought that I would take part this academic year. This is a team of students that help new students orientate themselves during Arrivals Weekend and Freshers’ Week. I helped new first-year students move into on-campus accommodation, answered questions and was a friendly presence on campus for everyone. If you are progressing from an undergraduate degree, I would really recommend taking part: you get to know a new group of people and the volunteering slots are flexible so you can still have fun during Freshers’ Week whilst volunteering.

Aside from volunteering, during Freshers’ Week I also had academic induction as I was starting a new course. This is a chance to meet your lecturers and coursemates before the start of term, which I found very useful, so I would recommend going to this. It’s also a good chance to ask any questions in person. You may have to do work in preparation for the first week, so make sure you make time for this! Personally, I found it a bit difficult to get back into studying after finishing my final exams, so Freshers’ Week is a good time to prepare yourself for the academic year ahead.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that Freshers’ Week isn’t fun! If you are new to the University, it’s a good time to orientate yourself around campus and the town so that you can find where you need to be easily. I would encourage you to try out different society taster sessions, there are more than 200 societies catering for all interests including media, music and recreational sport. As a postgraduate you can join Postgraduate Society, the only one at the university exclusively for master’s and PhD students. During Freshers’ Week it holds a Welcome Dinner for new postgraduates, so be sure to get your ticket!

Hopefully this gives you an idea of what Freshers’ Week as a postgraduate is like. Have fun!

My Penryn Experience (so far…)

Written by Matt BA History student studying on the Penryn campus

Hey there everyone! My name is Matt and I’m a second year History student lucky enough to be studying at Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall. There’s a lot to say when it comes to Penryn – and what I’ve included here is really only the surface of it.

On my first visit to campus back in year 12 (4 years ago, what!?) I got completely drenched, it was quite the first impression and cost me a brand-new set of clothes! What struck me immediately though was how I could see myself running from building to building in the Cornish downpours, unfortunately I’ve since realised it’s not as romantic as it sounds – but still a great laugh. I like to think what really sold it to me was hearing about summertime when a huge inflatable waterslide is installed randomly for a day on the hill outside Tremough House, but truthfully the place just clicked with me. So, contrary to the advice of my history teacher and sixth form leader, I put Penryn as my first choice, and can say confidently that I’ve spent the two best years of my life here.

My first taste of Falmouth – I soon realised the gloomy days are just as fun as the bright ones

I’ve tried to split my broad experience into a few categories, which I hope will be useful for anyone considering studying at Penryn or who just wants to hear about what it’s like:

Social Life: I’ve never been one for the aspects of student life that could be seen as typical, which is one of the main reasons I applied to Penryn. Naturally, I recognise my preferences aren’t universal, and I’m not saying you can only apply for Penryn if you don’t like drinking. The campus has good opportunity for that kind of social life; whilst it’s not the kind you’d find in a city location, it is there and, admittedly, it’s very good fun. However, what I love about Penryn is the equally strong alternative where going to the beach at sunset with a guitar and disposable BBQ is just as fun – if anything, it’s essential. I’ve sat on the docks with fish and chips chatting to my friends, and I’ve been in a club at 2am having the best time surrounded by people considerably more drunk than me. There’s honestly something for everybody. When you don’t want to leave campus The Stannary often holds events or drinks deals, and there are a huge variety of societies too which are well worth getting involved with. If there isn’t a society you vibe with, start one up! By far the best thing is that not once have I ever heard judgement for which route someone wants to take. You’re free to be who you want to be.

Campus: Campus itself is gorgeous, very much thanks to the commitment of staff and students for sustainability. The amount of colour and nature in the grounds year-round makes walking to a 9am lecture in the autumn mists actually not too much of a burden. In the instances when you’re still reeling in from the night before having had barely a few hours’ sleep though, be glad that everywhere on campus is nearby and you can easily just pop into the campus shop for a coffee or roll out of bed 5 minutes before your lecture – this gets harder to pull off when you live off-campus, so make the most of it! With all this, as well as how nice the flats and rooms are (double beds!!), living on campus is a treat and there’s always a friendly atmosphere. There are benches all over for enjoying the sun and that slice of cake you bought from Koofi (the campus café) with zero guilt. Yet my favourite part is that because it’s a comparatively small campus you can never get far without running into someone you know. From making plans spontaneously to even just a quick ‘hi’, seeing a familiar face is always a boost no matter what mood you’re in.

Facilities: If you’re not inclined to nap after that 9am or if you need to inevitably panic-write the last lines of your essay at midnight, the library is open 24/7 and is a great atmosphere for working. In fact, it was recently renovated so is now even more homely and accessible – plus, the link with Falmouth University means there are a tonne more resources than would otherwise be available. If you’re feeling exceptionally braver than me, there’s the Sports Centre for a post-lecture workout. It holds a hall, gym, and fitness studios – essentially everything you need to be active, save for maybe a swimming pool. But hey, there’s the sea! The link with Falmouth also brings with it access to AMATA whose studios play host to numerous performing arts societies. AMATA also hosts comedy nights, performances, and concerts from outside organisations, and tickets are usually reduced for students. Penryn would not be what it is without Falmouth University. As a Humanities student I never thought I’d spend my Friday evenings in a studio dancing, let alone getting involved in my Falmouth friends’ projects and being influenced by their extraordinary creativity. It’s like one big collaboration, and we all help each other. I should also mention the campus shop which stocks everything you could ever need on short notice, and campus staff/security who are always available in case of flat emergencies – looking at you, dodgy toaster which kept tripping our electricity.

The view from the library makes it difficult to stay focused!

Local Area: Falmouth is the largest nearby town and is only a 10-minute bus journey away. It’s no city, sure, but the quirky shops and tea rooms and of course the beautiful harbourfront make it a convenient place to escape university life and just generally stroll around. There are also general housekeeping shops and banks, both of which do come in handy as a student. By night there is an array of restaurants, and the town is home to a number of clubs for the partygoers. Penryn itself is about a 15-minute walk from campus. It is steeped in history and has a real community feel – their Christmas light switch-on is very atmospheric. You can’t live near Falmouth and not pay a trip to Gylly though – the local beach is about 10 minutes from town centre and is a great place to kick back and relax, or even try your hand at some water sports. In the off-season the beach becomes a favourite with dog owners too, just saying… If shopping days are more your thing then Truro is the best place to go; it’s about a half hour bus ride or 20-minute train journey from campus, and you’ll find your typical designer brands there amongst more unique ones. Bus services from campus also run to Redruth and as far as Penzance, and there is a free (yes, FREE) minibus service which runs to the local Asda on Mondays and Thursdays. With all of this going on as well as innumerable walks, activities, and community volunteer positions, and despite what I was told at least, it really is impossible to be bored here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Penryn Christmas Lights switch-on

Community: To me, this is the most important asset Penryn has. I’ve alluded to it already, but I wanted to reinforce it to end. Unlike bigger campuses, at Penryn you really get to know your course members and leaders – I’ve never actually been in a seminar with more than 15 people. This makes learning a lot less dry and a lot more engaging (it also makes making friends a lot easier!). Equally it means that support is available from your lecturers whenever you need it, whether academic or just personal. I’ve been to lecturers with the intention of discussing my essay for 5 minutes and staying for half an hour just chatting about life. I can only speak for the Humanities in that respect, but the feeling of being ‘known’ on campus is definitely universal and means you’re never far away from someone to talk to. Really, we’re just one big family – and I can’t think of anywhere else I would feel the same way!

So there you go, life at Penryn in a (admittedly quite large) nutshell. Cornwall really feels like a home from home for me now, and that’s thanks to my experience at Penryn. I’ve made some lifelong friends here and can’t wait to meet the people I’ve yet to. Personally, the atmosphere has allowed me to be myself – something secondary school never gave me – and although there have been rough days, living by the sea makes them just that little bit easier to swallow. Just try not to get too distracted by being able to see the coastline from the library – or don’t, it’s a gorgeous view after all!

 

 

 

 

 

The last evening I spent in Falmouth before coming home after second year – with views like this it’s hard not to miss it. 

How to study productively and efficiently at home

Written by Isla BA English student

Hi, my name is Isla and I am currently studying for my BA English degree at Exeter University. With the current pandemic and studies disrupted, tackling that pile of coursework you’d rather avoid, combined with health concerns and a distracting home environment is daunting. It’s easy to say ‘I just study better in the library’ but there are methods and tools out there to help you create the best study space you can at home.

Managing my studies around a busy timetable (I am part of three society committees, a subject representative and have a job alongside my studies) has encouraged me to find any resources I can to help with working at home productively and efficiently. I’m going to share with you some of the tools and study methods I use to keep up with work and still have time for Netflix and a social life (well more of a Zoom/Facetime life now).

My 3 most important general tips are:        

  1. These tips will only be as effective as you are in implementing them… yes that means no repeated adventures to the fridge or YouTube rabbit holes mid essay…though we have all done it.
  2. Have fair expectations of yourself – do not set unrealistic targets and then punish yourself for not meeting them, but also avoid making excuses for unnecessary lazy days.
  3. Learn from your study mistakes – it is ok to make changes and find what works for you.

Creating the right environment and headspace

  • Try to get up and go to bed at a similar time every day. I know you’ve heard it before but stick at it – a new routine takes a week to feel natural.
  • Change out of your pyjamas. Comfy clothes I fully support, but no-one works well in the pyjamas that they would rather take a nap in.
  • Don’t go straight from sleep to study. Give yourself some time to make breakfast, read or watch a little bit of a show you like, go for a walk or do some stretches. It is important to remember you would normally have a commute to university campus or school between waking up and studying, so give yourself some time to wake up properly and be in the right mindset.
  • Choose a dedicated study space that is NOT your bed and stick to it. Working in bed has been proven to affect your sleep patterns negatively.
  • Use your phone for break times only and turn off your social media notifications on your computer. Apps such as flora can be helpful to prevent you from constantly checking your phone.
  • Designate and inform people of your ‘study hours’. Friends will be less likely to call and distract you, and you’ll be more aware of leaving your study session to message people.
  • Keep up to date but try not to let news sources impact your state of mind negatively. The Togetherness Campaign by RMY is a great source of accurate news updates but put in quick to read Facebook posts.
  • Either Study properly or Relax properly. Giving yourself time to wind down is important and it is better to study well for 6 hours and then relax for 3, than do 9 hours of inefficient and stressful work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organisational advice

  • Write down clear weekly goals and then divide these by day. This makes tracking goals and progress a lot simpler so you can adjust your workload if your plans change, while still finishing on time.
  • Organise your ‘to do’s by deadline and importance. Complete tasks in the order of due date NOT based on what feels easier. We tend to avoid work we’re stressed about, and productive procrastination is still procrastination.
  • Use tools such as Trello and Todoist to track your tasks. A simple paper and pen to do list always works well too – I highlight mine with the top three urgent tasks to begin with.
  • Keep your workspace TIDY. You don’t want to keep ‘cleaning your room’ or ‘organising your desk’ instead of getting your work done.
  • Your lecturers/teachers are there to help – If you think you’re going to need help with an essay, ask sooner rather than later and lay out all your questions clearly in an email.

Study Tips

  • Active studying – ask yourself questions on every topic before and after you study. (What do I already know? How does this information fit into the rest of my module/course? How could I plan an essay on this topic?)
  • Always review and make note of difficult areas at the end of a study session – write reminders for areas you need to further research or recap.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Lack of sleep affects your body the same way alcohol does, and no-one works well hungover.
  • Don’t skip eating proper meals, being hungry and constantly snacking are both unhealthy and distracting.
  • Set timers for an hour every time you start a new task/topic and mark how long it took you to complete or how much was completed within 1 hour’s work. This helps with future time management and study planning as you understand your pace and workload better.

I hope some of these tips will help you but remember that different study methods work for different people and the current pandemic has thrown everyone a little off course. Don’t be too harsh on yourself, give yourself the best opportunity to do well by balancing work and relaxation time. You cannot pour from an empty cup.

Tips for the First Term

Written by Malavika Murthy

It still seems hard to believe that I have already completed a term in college. With a masters degree, I seem to always be on my feet trying to finish one reading list after the other. Before I could even feel settled, I had to start writing assignments, finding a work placement and acclimating to the weather. Here are the few things that really helped in sailing through the term:

1. Having a supportive group of friends:
I was fortunate enough to make some lovely friends from the day I landed at Heathrow Airport. As time passed, we became a strong bunch from different areas of study and nationalities who are always there for each other when the going got tough for any of us. We are a group of 6 who decided to meet whenever possible and cook authentic meals from our county, this little outing once a month got me away from the monotonous routine of study and college.

2. Volunteering:
Studying heritage management here, I decided to take up volunteering at one of the heritage sites in Falmouth. The experience has been very enriching, to say the least. Volunteering at the Pendennis Castle, I have the opportunity to meet new people every week, I have gained a few insights into the history of Cornwall from the locals and been lucky enough to hear Cornish Carlos during Christmas celebration.

3. Reach out to your professors:
The teaching system in India is very different from here, there is always a wall between the students and the teachers and never an open communication. My professors have so far been so approachable and friendly, anytime I feel overwhelmed with any of my assignments I have emailed them or arranged for office hours and they have responded immediately and helped as much as possible to solve my problems.

4. Have fun:
Take time out from your studies and go out with your friends, flatmates or just by yourself. There is so much to explore around you besides the campus. Getting some fresh air has always helped me clear my mind and stay more focused on my studies. There are many societies and events that you can participate in. I attended two excursions organised by Reslife one to the Seal Sanctuary and another to the Eden Project, both have been an amazing experience.

Freshers’ Week and Term One: What NOT To Worry About

Written by Emma MA Creativity: Innovation and Business Strategy student

The days leading up to your first week of university can be emotional. I remember feeling a bizarre mixture of excitement and anxiety. My mum grew tearful over nearly everything I did, and I was permanently torn over how much I should take with me. I’m now a postgraduate student at the University of Exeter and I’ve moved five times since moving into halls nearly four academic years ago. I found that adapting to change became easier with that first step of attending Freshers’ week. To remedy those Freshers’ fears, I’ve compiled this list of things NOT to worry about as a new undergraduate.

1. Halls: Moving out of my family home and into halls was the biggest hurdle I encountered during Freshers’ week and for a long time after. I had expected to meet my best friends for life in my new accommodation. I didn’t. I hadn’t expected to miss my family a lot. I did. If you’ve never lived away from home then this is probably the trickiest bit for you, but it is by no means something that needs worrying about. Yes, sometimes I felt a little lonely, but I truly believe that those first few months of university made me into the independent individual I am today. I stuck it out, I met life-altering personalities, I spent time getting to know the people in my block and the people in my lectures and seminars. I made a lot of amazing acquaintances, a few amazing friends, and three amazing best friends. By my second year of university I was itching to return and found over the summer break that I missed being on campus where everyone knew my name. So, don’t worry about moving or feeling alienated by your home away from home because you really will be settled down in no time without even realising it. I promise.

2. Making a good first impression: Social anxiety has been a close companion of mine for a few years now. Some days I find myself over-analysing the tiniest of things. These feelings especially acted up during Freshers’ week. I wanted my lecturers to like me, I wanted my new hall mates to like me and I wanted my course mates to like me. However, what you’ll soon come to realise is that every Fresher feels the same way. Make that effort to introduce yourself to everyone but don’t panic about being the most memorable person in the room. The friends I made in the flat below during my first few weeks of university I never kept in contact with after my second term. Not because I didn’t want to but simply because I settled with different company in the end. You might not find your more permanent social group right away, and that’s okay.

3. Getting top grades: Congratulations! You made it to the University of Exeter and you absolutely smashed your A-Levels. Now it’s time to dial it up a notch. I was immensely disheartened by my first few essay grades. How could I go from being top of the class at college to scrapping a 2:1 with a 60? University level study is hard. I adored the overwhelming intake of information in my lectures. I lived for the buzz in the room during an impassioned seminar debate. I also found myself permanently exhausted. The good news is that your first year doesn’t count towards your final grade. Spend the year finding a comfortable balance between all the new components in your life and before you know it, you’ll be floating back up to First Class territory.

4. Picking the best societies: I joined only one society in my first year: Creative Writing Society. I attended two workshops and never went again. The society was inspiring and immensely fun but I was too preoccupied with adjusting to my new environment to devote myself to it. By my second year of university I was involved in two societies: Archery (which I went into never having tried the sport before) and Xpression FM (of which I became the Arts and Literature Senior Correspondent for the News Team). In my case, I found that I was more able to give my absolute attention to societies and society socials by my second year when I’d found my footing. Here’s the secret: Freshers’ fair isn’t just for Freshers! It’s for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in university life at any point of their degree. I’ve attended the Freshers’ Fair every year I’ve spent at university and not just for all the freebies but for the electricity right at my fingertips. Go to the fair, enjoy the free snacks, pens, and pizza vouchers and don’t feel pressured to sign up to a single thing.

5. Time management: This one is a fine art that is perfected throughout one’s life. I remember feeling incredibly overwhelmed during my first year of university. Information came at me from all angles through several different channels that I wasn’t yet accustomed to using. I was being invited to society socials, to nights out clubbing with course mates, to dinners in my accommodation block, to parties in a friend’s friend’s halls, to additional lectures, to non-compulsory workshops, to poetry slams and art exhibitions, all alongside completing suffocating masses of reading in time for my seminars. I found time management easier when I purchased my first academic diary. I used to schedule everything in my day from waking up and writing emails to relaxing with a bottle of wine in the evening. I can’t remember at what point I stopped consulting it religiously, but it must have been the point in which I’d found a sense of routine. I still buy myself an academic diary every year and I still find myself writing in it every day (even when I’m searching for things to keep myself occupied with during the summer break). My top tip would be to invest in an academic diary yourself. Use it as a crutch until you no longer entirely depend on it. It’ll be the best tenner you’ve spent that year and you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

6. Freshers’ Flu: For some reason I lost the ability to hear out of my left ear entirely during my second and third week of university which really didn’t help my nervous fears surrounding my ability to keep on top of all my coursework. I went to the Student Health Centre with possibly the worst flu I’d ever experienced. I felt ran-down, lethargic, and bunged-up. The nurse recommended plenty of rest and explained to me that Freshers’ Flu wasn’t in fact a myth. I also developed a milder strain of the flu in my second year of university. Don’t panic, watch your lectures at home from your bed, eat well, and cut back on the partying (at least for a couple of nights). You’ll feel better once your body has built a resistance to your full and hectic lifestyle.

Despite my undergraduate years being some of the toughest of my life they were also the best years of my life to date. University is full of extreme emotions which make it a hell of a thrilling and unforgettable time. Just remember to keep your cool and everything will find its place. There really is nothing to worry about.

Musings of a Mature Student – Coping with the Holidays!

Written by Anne MA English Literary Studies/Film Studies Pathway student

These deadlines come around fast, don’t they? So, with the industrial action, I find I have more time at home, so being super-organised is more important than ever. The temptation to have a break (as no seminars for a few weeks) is strong, hey, why not ditch the coursework and carry on with the research report/essay/ or whatever needs handing in next?

Well, as tempting as it is, I found a lot more useful information in this week’s reading that will improve my writing no end. After all, good writing depends on good reading…

So, there are several ways to approach writing an essay; in fact, the LSE have some great tips on their website. 

My approach is to get as much done upfront as possible: as a mature student, I can’t pull all-nighters close to deadline, which seems to be a popular choice amongst some of the younger students, aided by heart-attack amounts of red bull and coffee! (Seriously, how do you do it?) ..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instead, I aim at around four hours a day steady writing, occasionally re-checking my research notes and making sure in-text citations have the correct page number. Then I just slog at it. I usually write my introduction at around 10-20% of the word count, then I write bullets points of what I hope to discover. This helps me stick to my point in the main body of the essay. It doesn’t matter about spelling and grammar at this stage – no point in correcting stuff which may well end up being deleted in the final draft! So, basically, I cobble it together then refine afterwards.  And referencing as I go. Also, remember to do that Turnitin check!

At least, in this way, I have something to submit early on, in case of a catastrophe, which happened to me at Xmas. I was bedridden four days up to deadline, so no, I didn’t write the stellar essay I hoped for, but I did have a finished essay to hand in, proof-read and formatted, checked and refined to a degree.

I have days that I’m sure you can all relate to…you know, where the sentence ‘the cat sat on the mat’ is the brain’s intellectual offering of the day and your head is full of clouds. You feel you cannot read ONE MORE thing and your eyes do that funny flicky from side-to-side thing. I either take a break and close my eyes for 10 mins, go and do something physical, or stop and set a later time in the day (that I have to stick to!) to carry on.

I used to ‘wait for inspiration’ in my undergrad days…that was great when I had 7 months to write 5000 words, (I kid you not), but I found it a shock to have to do the same in 3 weeks….so something had to change. I got far more disciplined, and when I wrote out my timetable for the Xmas break, it actually looked not only do-able but easily so.

Other things I do to stay organised:

Cooking: I plan a week’s worth of food, make out a menu, and spend a day making meals so that I don’t have to waste time wondering each day what I’m going to eat and then have to do needless shopping trips. As it’s a 40 min round trip walking to the shops where I live, this saves me A LOT of time.

Work: Yes, I have to work to support myself, so I make sure that my reading/writing schedule is lighter on those evenings, and make sure I get early starts on the days I’m not at work. It’s so easy to procrastinate at home and to get side-tracked. It’s not so bad for me as I have no dependants, but I still have to stay disciplined and not decide that hoovering the lounge is suddenly the most fascinating thing ever!

Delegate: I don’t like to ask anyone to do stuff for me, but since asking my sister (with whom I live) to take up the slack from some household/laundry/shopping chores, I find that I have more time. I have discovered that non-University family members can sometimes find it hard to believe that when you’re staring into space, you are actually working! I have also had to be firm about Do Not Disturb – it’s easy for someone to distract you and lose your train of thought. I shut my office door and have a sign on the handle. Family members can’t be expected to remember that you’re still working on the same thing two hours later!

Socialise: I make time to meet up with a friend, have a night out, and not spend the time worrying or feeling guilty, because I have scheduled it into my calendar. A good night out and having some fun does wonders for creativity!

It’s about pacing yourself, and realising that when you’re shattered/exhausted, you need to stop. Look after yourself, and your health. Be nice to yourself – you’ve come this far, you’re awesome! Sometimes you just need to remind yourself of just that. Get some sleep. Tomorrow is another day, and aren’t we lucky to see it?

Musings of a mature student – Eating well and staying healthy

Written by Anne MA English Literary Studies/Film Studies Pathway

I have to budget (like all of us do!) as a student, so I have been looking at ways to eat well and save pounds….and lose pounds too! My food bill is around £25-£30 per week, although a lot of that is on things that take a long time to use up, like oil, salt, mayo… store cupboard essentials. Although there are many great (and heavily discounted) eateries around campus, and it’s great to eat out with friends, there is something satisfying about cooking and having friends round to dinner. Even better if you club together to buy the ingredients or have different hosts even once a week.

The important thing is to strike a balance – it would be great to have dedicated ‘eat out together’ nights and some eat-in dinner parties too and think what you could do with the money you save!

Maths is not my strong point, but I’ll give it a go:

Scenario. You eat lunch every day on campus, evenings you eat out or grab a take-away. In this sample I’m using as an average just two meals per day and two to three drinks.

Lunch: Burger and fries, £5.75. Drink, £2.50.

Dinner: On campus £6.95 Meal Deal/ Takeaway Pizza (small), £13.99. Drink, £2.

Over 7 days = £106.40/£169.68

Daily expenditure (not including breakfast or snacks) = £15.20/£24.24

My food bill is £30 eating-in every day and taking my own lunches to college. If I add on a night out and a few coffees, then I can guess at another £15 on top, so that rounds up to £45 per week. Let’s round that to £6 per day if I’m feeling lavish, although realistically it’s a lot less than that.

It easy to see, then, that by cooking even three days out of seven could potentially save you a lot of money! There are too many variables for accurate calculations, but it’s safe to say at least £9 to £18 could be saved per day on not eating out. That could be a few extra hundred quid per semester! Be smart, eat smart!

As a one-time chef, I have always had an interest in food; not only from a restaurant-oriented perspective on food combinations, presentation and flavour, but also nutrition and its effects I the body. I cook all of my meals from scratch, and although it can be a bit time consuming, I save A LOT of money in the meantime.

So instead of grabbing a quick bite from a café or shop, I make a batch of food that I can take with me to Uni, like a frittata (sort of  a cold omelette) loaded with eggs, spinach, onions and feta cheese…healthy and delicious! Spinach is full of vitamins too, which is great for your body and brain! The good news is you only need one large frying pan, a decent knife and a chopping board, no fancy kitchen stuff. (Although fancy kitchen stuff is col…I’m a kitchen-gadget nerd). 😊

So, I’m heading for my mid-fifties, and my body isn’t what it used to be! I have always been fairly active – I love DIY, building projects at home and in the garden, I grow my own food, and I dance Argentine tango.

When I began my serious foray into education starting my degree late in life in 2015, my lifestyle also changed drastically. Gone were the long days of being active; instead I was (and am) spending a lot more time sitting down studying, or spending hours watching films for my course. So, the input/output ratio of food/energy expenditure was just not balancing up any more. Added to that was a broken arm followed by a knee operation and surgery, compounding the inactivity and inability to move very much at all.

I found that my energy levels were spiking and crashing all over the place. I felt tired even after 8 hours of sleep. I have suffered insomnia for a long time, and I was resigned to a good night’s sleep being a thing of the past. I was packing on the pounds, making my system feel sluggish and my clothes were not fitting well any more. I looked at my daily food intake and kept a diary – a few lattés with added sugar, an energy bar, and sandwich or fries for lunch and maybe pasta for dinner, followed by toast later on in the evening or some dark chocolate was a normal day, and although it looked healthy, there was a lot of sugar in there, even though I didn’t realise it! And I often felt hungry….

So, even though I cook a lot and cook well, I decided to add more ‘on the go’ foods to my list to avoid grabbing a carb-heavy lunch, which can make you feel sleepy!  Apart from frittata, another cool way to bring a packed lunch to Uni is in lettuce wraps: you can load a sweet, crunchy lettuce leaf (cos, or romaine are best) with chicken mayo, tuna, roasted peppers, flavoured tofu,  steak and cheese – think wrap but with lettuce for the ‘holder’. The best thing about learning to cook a few simple things for lunches is that it’s much, much cheaper and also really good for you…my lunches are very filling and cost around a pound each!

Now, any kind of regime is difficult to stick to without good planning; if you have a family to fit in around your meal choices it’s ever harder. But by spending just a few hours in a day to make lunches or dinners for the next few days actually saves a lot of time!

So down to the food itself! By eating good quality protein, vegan or not, you actually feel fuller longer, and by adding ‘rainbow’ veg you are getting all the nutrition you need. Finish off your salads with some good virgin olive oil or throw on some seeds and you’re good to go! Here’s one of my favourites, which is actually nice cold too – you have the leftovers for lunch the next day. Jazz it up by throwing in some fresh watercress leaves and fresh cherry tomatoes for a great salad!

I am going to start with a ‘middle of the road’ recipe, one that is Asian food inspired, and follows my particular keto diet, although it’s healthy for everyone. Here is one of my favorites, which you can cook in under 30 mins, after a bit of prep. (with adaptations for various diets). It’s a good recipe to have for lunch or dinner, especially if the other meal of the day is a bit heavier on fried foods or eating out. Why not get your friends round for dinner, everyone can help with the prep…not to mention the washing up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spicy Beef Asian Style (with veggie and Ramen Variations). (serves 2) prep time (overnight plus 30mins cooking) serves 2. Cost: approx. £7 (£5.67 for main ingredients, allowing £1.33 for spices, herbs and oils).

1 x 12oz sirloin or other good grass-fed beef steak

1 x Bunch spring onions chopped

1 x head pak choi

I x small carrot sliced into in ribbons

1x head of broccoli cut into small florettes

1x green pepper, de-seeded and sliced

1 x courgette cut into thin strips

1tbsp soy sauce

¼ tsp chili flakes

2 x cloves garlic

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp salt

Handful fresh coriander

2tsp toasted sesame seeds

1 x tbsp sesame oil plus extra if needed

 

Method

Combine oil, salt, crushed garlic, coconut aminos, chilli & ginger in a bowl.

Slice steak into thin ribbons, about ¼ inch thick and thoroughly coat in oil mixture.

Cover and leave to marinade in the fridge overnight.

Cooking:

Pre-heat a large non-stick wok and add beef using tongs, being careful to shake off as much liquid from the marinade as possible. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until all pink colour has just turned brown. If sticking, add a little more sesame oil. Remove and set aside.

Add broccoli, peppers and carrots to pan, cook for 2 minutes, tossing to keep them cooking evenly. Add sliced pak choi and spring onions, then re-add beef and rest of marinade. Add beef broth, lower heat on pan. Cook until all heated through and piping hot.

Ladle into two bowls, top with sesame seeds and coriander.

Enjoy!

Variations:

Less expensive: Use low sodium soy sauce instead of liquid coconut aminos, and switch to cheaper cuts of pork or chicken.

Ramen: Add a halved boiled egg and spiralise the courgette for low carb ramen, or for normal ramen add cooked noodles.

Vegetarian: add marinated seitan or tofu instead of meat.

Spice it up!  Splash on some hot chilli sauce or add bird’s eye chilies when frying meat/tofu.

Freshen it up! Toss in a large handful of bean sprouts to the veggies when cooking and add a big bunch of watercress on the side and squeeze over a generous slice of fresh lime.

 

 

The Postgraduate life: Managing study and managing your routine

Written by Emma Anderson MA Creativity student

When I made the choice to carry on with my studies by taking on a postgraduate degree, I was left contemplating how an MA schedule would affect by routine. I also questioned how it would fit in around my current job. Funding for an MA can be covered by a government loan, but maintenance loans were scraped for postgraduate students about a year ago. I decided to work part-time and study part-time to remedy this. This way I could ensure that I would have the time to do my MA justice. However, many of my friends have managed to work part-time and study an MA full-time under more stressful time restraints. Still, I was pleased with the choice I made to go part-time while studying an MA in Creativity. An MA offers so many routes for growth and expansion that are not part of the required reading list or contact hours. In this blog, I hope to explain what life is like for a part-time MA student so that others might better be able to decide what pace they want to work at during further study.

How long can I expect to be on campus?
I can be on campus anywhere between two and four days a week. This means that my part-time job needs to be flexible to suit my requirements. It also means I need to constantly be updating my employer with any schedule changes. One thing is always certain though: weekends are university free! So, I try and keep a minimum of half my weekdays for academia and weekends free for work shifts. I also find that sometimes I end up being on campus from eight thirty in the morning until six in the evening whilst sometimes I only have a short two-hour workshop. I often extend days like this (when I also won’t be going into work) by doing some core reading in the Queens café or organising a meeting with my project team for an hour or so. Trying to be conservative with time by keeping days on campus dedicated to academia can help balance the time divided between study and making money.

Which jobs work well with study?
I work part-time as a supervisor for a high street store whilst also finding time to write blogs as a Social Media Ambassador for the University of Exeter whenever I can. I have friends who work in hospitality, friends with jobs in bars, and friends with jobs in the cultural heritage sector who all manage to study an MA alongside their profession. The beauty of postgraduate study is the flexibility that comes with it. You are responsible for managing your time and making sure that you catch up with everyone that you work with. This means that every week can vary hugely, including the amount of time you put into each component of your life. Sometimes I find myself working on a module project for three full days straight. At other times I can take on some overtime at work and write an extra blog or two for spare cash. If your job can handle this kind of variation the choice to study part-time or full-time is totally yours.

How much of your time is spent on university timetabled activities?
One of my favourite things about studying an MA in Creativity: Innovation and Business Strategy is the time I can spend networking in social circles I would normally never be able to. I have had the privilege of conversing with experts in their field. Completing an MA is about taking on available opportunities and not just the compulsory content. In my case I enjoy participating in all available excursions and work placement opportunities. I spend additional time improving my CV and making new LinkedIn connections to improve my career prospects. Even taking the time to discuss business collaborations with a course mate over a drink at Wetherspoons is all part of preparing for my life beyond academia and beyond my course. Extra-curricular attendance needs to be embraced with a greater enthusiasm in further study. Considering this when deciding how to divide your time is hugely important to the level of success you strive for.

How much free time can I expect?
I thrive off a busy schedule which is why the opportunities that go alongside with studying at university suit me. However, I still find myself needing some time for TLC like anyone else. By managing my time and sticking to a schedule I usually manage to free up time in the evenings to spend with friends and family. There is always more work that could be done but studying at postgraduate level involves finding healthy ways to balance your time between doing some further reading and watching that new Netflix series everyone has been raving about. A measure of control, restraint, and organisation is vital for all students. This is taken up a notch with the flexibility of an MA. Studying part-time will always permit more freedom in terms of free time but you should still be finding yourself as busy as a full-time student if you are using that freedom wisely.

Do you ever feel left out of major projects as a part-time student?
My entire MA group are extremely supportive and work inclusively. We consistently aim to utilise each other’s diverse range of talents and skills. As a result, I have never felt excluded by my status as a part-timer. I have at times found myself excitedly anticipating a module I will be completing in the next academic year which my full-time course mates positively feedback on. If anything, I feel part-time study has given me the advantage of witnessing my course mates’ successes and progress which has aided in my gradual advancements. I also consider myself incredibly lucky in the fact that I will be a part of two academic cohorts of talented individuals with whom I can ideate and creative problem-solve. I have the capacity to bounce my business propositions off a wider variety of aspiring entrepreneurs which can only ever benefit my creative visions. I would imagine that completing a full-time course is much the same, but with a higher intensity work ethic and a greater need to rely on your current workmates.

Whatever your choice, time management is the key to adapting to your new lifestyle pace. Adopt as much as you possibly can into your new routine and relish all the potential that life at the University of Exeter has to offer its students.

 

The difference between studying History at School vs University

By Emily 2nd Year History student based on the Penryn campus

Hi everyone! My name is Emily and I’m a 2nd year History student at the University of Exeter. I’m based down at the Penryn campus in Cornwall, which I love because it is such a different experience and atmosphere compared to Liverpool, which is where I’m from.

I love the independence that university brings, and this doesn’t just mean living alone and things like that, but also in my course. When it comes to how you study and quite often what you study, you get to decide what to do, which is very different from school. It is exciting, but admittedly a little daunting at first!

In this blog post, I’m going to be explaining some of the differences between studying at school and studying at university, which will hopefully give you a good idea of what changes to expect. Being a History student, I will be talking from a Humanities perspective. A lot of what I will say will relate to all university courses, but it is just something to keep in mind. The main thing to stress is that yes, university is very different from school. However, different definitely does not mean harder, or scarier, or anything like that. If anything, you’ll probably find that you find studying more enjoyable because of how much freedom you have.

Thinking back to when I was school (which wasn’t THAT long ago), I find it hard to believe that I actually used to stay in the same building and have lessons for 6 straight hours every day, 5 days a week. Sixth form is a little bit more freeing but if your college is anything like mine, it didn’t feel that much different from school. University is completely different. This will vary for each student, but I have around 8 contact hours per week at university, broken up into lectures and seminars. Lectures are basically like watching someone give a big presentation, and a seminar is similar to a classroom, but smaller and more of a discussion, rather than a teacher simply teaching.

The reason that university contact hours are lower than school is because you are required to do a lot of independent work. Don’t get this confused with homework, where everyone gets the same task. Using my course as an example, in your lectures, your lecturer will introduce you to ideas surrounding the topic of the week, and you will then go away and do your own reading. There might be a few chapters that your lecturer has asked you to read, and they might supply you with a question to think about, but you are encouraged to explore anything you find interesting about that topic and be ready to discuss what you have found in your seminar with your course mates. Lecturers love it when students have new ideas, that they might not have even thought about. Not only this, but a lot of assignments may require you to think of your own question. For example, I just completed a project where I got to find all my own sources and I could think of any topic I wanted to cover. The dissertation is another example of this, I know people who have wrote dissertations on everything from skateboarding to disco music. This is a great opportunity to write about anything you are passionate about within your course and essentially, to show off. You don’t really get this opportunity at school because everyone is required to study the same thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you study is also up to you. If you would prefer to stick to a school routine and stay on campus all day to study, then that is completely okay. I tend to do that close to deadlines, but not always! There is so much going on at university and you might find that you study at random times. For example, you might have an hour-long lecture at 9am, but then decide to go out to lunch with a friend, or go to a society meeting, or go to a gym class. Then, you might decide to come home and pick up studying again after dinner. Sometimes you might be on campus all day and others you might not need to go in at all. There is no right or wrong way to do it, it is all about finding your groove and what is best for you.

Before finishing up here, I think the biggest difference between studying at school vs university, is that university really expands your academic potential. You have chosen one subject to study because you want to become an expert in that field, and you are surrounded by others who have also all chosen to be there. People don’t realise how limiting the school curriculum is until university, especially in history. At school, everyone gets taught a lot about World War 2 but not about things like Australian Aboriginal history. I have been able to study so many different perspectives, that I could never do at school and it is actually so important to consider different perspectives!

There is definitely a lot more to be excited about than to be afraid of when it comes to studying at university, so don’t let the word ‘different’ give you a bad impression and look forward to all the new things university will bring! Thank you so much for reading, I really hope that you found this blog useful!

What is it like to study a Humanities subject at Exeter University?

By Ferdia 2nd year English and Drama student at Exeter University

Hello! My name is Ferdia and I am in my second year studying English and Drama at Exeter. I am originally from Manchester but I love going to a university far away from home, as it has given me an increased sense of independence and responsibility. My favourite thing about studying at Exeter is the size of the university and the fact that it is campus based. I think that as a campus there is an increased sense of community and everyone is really friendly. Getting to know people and making new friends couldn’t be easier!

I am writing today about the difference between studying a Humanities subject at university, compared to studying Humanities at school. I would say that the first key difference is the sense of freedom you get at university. At school, you have to study the topics assigned by your teacher, meaning you may not necessarily enjoy all of them. Whereas at university level, although there are some compulsory modules, you get the freedom to choose what you want to do and are interested in. This makes it a lot more enjoyable. For example, in my first year I picked ‘Introduction to film studies’ as one of my English modules. I had never studied film or cinema before, but this freedom of choice led me to have a real love of Film Studies, and consequently I will be taking a Film & Television Studies module as part of my final year.

Another difference is the level of engagement with tutors. In school, you spend most of your time guided by a teacher, whereas at university most of your time is spent in independent study. In an average week, I might have 8-10 hours when I’m led by a tutor – broken down into lectures and seminars. I might have two 1-2 hour long lectures a week, which will be based on the reading for that week. You will be expected to have done the reading and be prepared. I might also have two 2 hour long seminars a week. These seminars are a guided discussion led by a tutor based on the reading for that week. These sessions are really helpful, as they make you think about things in a way you might not have thought about before, and you can engage with like-minded people. I love the independent aspect of studying a Humanities subject, you can learn more about what interests you and learn more about your writing style. If you are stuck you can always go and speak to one of your tutors and they are always more than happy to help.

A difference in essay writing between writing at school level and writing at university level, is the criteria you have to fulfil. When writing essays for humanities subjects at GCSE or A level, there are certain assessment objectives you have to fulfil and you are taught how to write an essay in a very specific way. However at university level, you are given more freedom in the way you can approach an essay question and can develop your own essay writing style. I found this really helpful, as at school I struggled with the way we were taught to write essays and consequently my marks suffered due to this restriction. However now I can approach an essay in a way I feel is most suitable, and I find that I can write essays with more passion and enthusiasm!

Although I have really enjoyed the increase in freedom in my studies during my time at university, there are also many other things that have made my time at Exeter a special one. I have been very active in societies, including my academic subject societies and also theatre societies, which have helped me to make friends and enjoy myself! I hope that this post helps with any questions you might have and I wish you the best of luck studying Humanities in the future!